Big Eats, Little City
If you haven’t experienced the haven of Hallowell, take a drive. Maine's smallest city, bordered by Augusta to the north, is a majestic place to be on a midsummer’s eve. Water Street is aglow in a soft, enveloping light that plays off the Kennebec River as it rolls by downtown shops. And in this small stretch of a downtown there are a handful of restaurants that complement the friendly, artisan vibe of Hallowell with down-to-earth, delicious food and drinks.
A new, hip joint is Joyce’s (192 Water Street, 207-512-8433, www.joycesinhallowell.com). This wine bar was opened earlier this summer by Joyce Walters and Chaz Adcock, replacing Marquis TV & Satellite Sales & Service in the brick building on the waterfront. The extensive wine list, creative appetizers, and stunning river view set it apart. The restaurant also has an upstairs with a grand piano for occasional live music or functions. My favorite part of the place is the cocktail menu (click here to see the full cocktail menu). It’s varied, and the drinks are fresh and delicious — I sampled the Clementine Martini and the Pomegranate Margarita, and let’s just say that I’ll be going back to try more of them.
Across the street is the new Slate’s (161 Water Street, 207-622-4104, www.slatesrestaurant.com) a reincarnation of the old-time favorite that burned down in February of 2007. Known as the “heart of Hallowell” before the fire, in part due to their presence in the town for more than thirty years, Slate’s is as popular as ever in their new and improved building. Their food is solid — tasty, well-seasoned, and not the least bit generic. They have particularly great salads and snacks, like the warmed Brie served with crusty bread. Check out their website for exact hours (which include lunch and brunch) — and make a reservation if you’re expecting to dine at prime dinner hours. On the Tuesday night I went, the colorful restaurant that seats almost 100 people was packed at 7:30P.M.
Just up the street is another favorite watering hole of mine, The Liberal Cup (115 Water Street, 207-623-2739). Open since 2000, this comfortable English-style pub is the home of more than 21 different ales and lagers brewed on the premises (their slogan is “brewed in Hallowell, drunk in Hallowell” since their beer is not available anywhere but at the pub itself). Their 20oz pints are matched by their generous portions of good, homemade food from fish and chips to macaroni and cheese and everything in between. It’s a great place to relax with a pint and a cup of soup or to come with the whole family and have leftovers for everyone.
Want to hit up all three? Make a night of it. Start off with a cocktail at Joyce's, head to Slate's for dinner, and then have a pint at The Liberal Cup. It's a great way to enjoy this charming Maine city.